Familial pituitary tumors

Handb Clin Neurol. 2014:124:339-60. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-59602-4.00023-X.


Pituitary adenomas are benign intracranial neoplasms that present a major clinical concern due to hormone overproduction and/or tumor mass effects. The majority of pituitary adenomas occur sporadically; however, familial cases are increasingly being recognized, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), Carney complex (CNC), and familial isolated pituitary adenoma (FIPA). Familial pituitary tumors appear to differ from their sporadic counterparts both in their genetic basis and in clinical characteristics. Evidence suggests that, especially in MEN1 and FIPA, tumors are more aggressive and affect patients at a younger age, therefore justifying the importance of early diagnosis, while in Carney complex pituitary hyperplasia is common. The genetic alterations responsible for the formation of familial pituitary syndromes include the MEN1 gene, responsible for about 80% of MEN1 cases, the regulatory subunit of the protein kinase A, PRKAR1A, responsible for about 70% of Carney complex cases, and AIP, the gene coding the aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein, responsible for about 20% of FIPA cases. Rarely other genes have also been found responsible for familial pituitary adenoma cases. McCune-Albright syndrome (MAS) also has a genetic origin due to mosaic mutations in the G protein-coupled α subunit coded by the GNAS1 gene. In this chapter, we summarize the genetic and clinical characteristics of these familial pituitary syndromes and MAS.

Keywords: Carney complex (CNC); McCune–Albright syndrome (MAS); familial isolated pituitary adenomas (FIPA); multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnosis
  • Adenoma / genetics
  • Adenoma / therapy
  • Animals
  • Carney Complex / diagnosis*
  • Carney Complex / genetics*
  • Carney Complex / therapy
  • Chromogranins
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / chemistry
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / genetics
  • Growth Hormone-Secreting Pituitary Adenoma / diagnosis*
  • Growth Hormone-Secreting Pituitary Adenoma / genetics*
  • Growth Hormone-Secreting Pituitary Adenoma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 / genetics*
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 / therapy
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / therapy
  • Protein Structure, Secondary


  • Chromogranins
  • GNAS protein, human
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs

Supplementary concepts

  • Pituitary Adenoma, Familial Isolated